The 2015 Bughouse Square Debates | Newberry

The 2015 Bughouse Square Debates

Jorge Mujica on the soapbox, 2014

Jorge Mujica on the soapbox, 2014

Erwin Lutzer, Champion Soapbox Speaker and Dill Pickle Awardee, 2014

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Noon – 4 pm

Washington Square Park (a.k.a., Bughouse Square), 901 North Clark Street, across from the Newberry

Rain or Shine!

Join Rick Kogan and the Newberry Library for Chicago’s favorite free speech event! The Environmental Encroachment Marching Band will kick off the program at noon with lively musical entertainment, followed by the Main Debate, soapbox speakers, a reading of the “Bug-House Square” poem, and the presentation of two awards: the Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award and the Dill Pickle to the champion soapbox orator.

Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the open soapbox, and exercise your First Amendment rights. Take it to the park this summer! And don’t miss the Newberry Book Fair after the Debates!

Learn more about the history of Bughouse Square.

Main Debate

How many of the Chicago Public Schools should be charter schools, if any? What roles should teachers, administrators, teachers unions, City Hall, parents, students, taxpayers, and business and philanthropic interests play in shaping Chicago’s education system? Is school choice the answer to improving CPS or is it part of the problem?

Public or private? What should be the future of public education in Chicago?

Bruno Behrend, Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Heartland Institute, and Troy LaRaviere, Principal of Blaine Elementary School, will offer their perspectives on these hotly contested issues during the Main Debate, followed by a Q&A with the audience. Heckling of a civil and friendly nature during the Main Debate is encouraged.

Soapbox Speakers

This year’s soapbox speakers include:

  • Jamie Albert, A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall: The Blame Pattern
  • Michael Brennan, The Best Health Care Plan for America
  • Howard Cort, Emerging Alternatives for Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence
  • Jerry Field, The Care and Treatment of Veterans for Education and Employment
  • Bill Geraci, Problems in Translation; or, Jesus’ Virgin Birth?
  • Rachel Goodstein, Tough Talk for Tough Times in the Toddling Town: Serious Solutions for the Second City’s Crises
  • Malik January, The Prioritization and Faults of Security
  • Erwin Lutzer, Jesus and a Skeptic: Why All Rational People Should Believe in Jesus
  • Tom O’Donnell, The Root Causes and Solutions to World Problems
  • Gail Schechter, The Chicago Region as The Picture of Dorian Gray; or, The Co-Dependency of Winnetka and Englewood and Why We Should Care
  • AJ Segneri, A Democratic Revolution from Below
  • Natia Weathers, The Irrelevance of Coincidence and Hard Work

Open Soapbox

Come one, come all! Starting at noon, the open soapbox will be available for airing grievances and spreading good news. Just show up and get in line! Back by popular demand, The Society of Smallness will return this year to curate the open soapbox.

Altgeld Award

This year’s Altgeld Award goes to Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer, social critic, and long-time defender of free speech and civil liberties—most recently on college campuses. Kaminer is the author of several books, including I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Moment & Other Self-Help Fashions and Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. She also contributes regularly to newspapers and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Kaminer currently serves on the advisory boards of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Secular Coalition for America, and formerly served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Food and Drinks

Root beer floats (and more) by Chase Events and 5411 Empanadas return! Both vendors will set up on Walton Street between the Newberry and the park for your refreshment needs. Water will also be available in the park.

Cost and Registration Information 

This program is free and no reservations are required.

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